Greenwich nonprofit gives $200K to Bridgeport hydroponic garden, New Haven rent support organizations

DARIEN — Fifty families will receive aid to prevent losing their homes, while a new hydroponic farm will provide fresh vegetables in a food desert — thanks to more than $200,000 in grants recently awarded by a local charitable organization to two Bridgeport-serving nonprofits.

Impact Fairfield County is a women’s collective giving organization that annually distributes thousands of dollars in funding to local nonprofits. During its May 4 meeting held at the Woodway Club in Darien, the organization parsed through five finalists to award two $100,000 grants and three $20,000 grants.

“The women who get involved are just incredibly thrilled to be making a difference in the community and also learning about all the needs in the area,” said Jenny San Jose, the vice president of Impact FFC.

This year’s two main grant winners were nOURish Bridgeport and New Reach, both of which provide services to underserved families in the area.

New Haven-based New Reach is using the money to expand its homelessness prevention program, working with social workers, landlords, and legal aid to help families — usually women with children — maintain access to housing by preventing eviction.

The $100,000 will fund help for 50 additional families New Reach works with, according to the organization.

The second award winner, nOURish Bridgeport, battles food insecurity by providing nutritious produce and other staples — like formula and hot meals — to local residents. Its $100,000 will be used in developing its indoor hydroponic farm, which will grow fresh produce to give back to food pantries and farmer’s markets, according to the organization.

Many Bridgeport residents live in a food desert, with residents often having to travel long distances just to find groceries near them.

The funding will offset the purchase of the hydroponic farm equipment, and the organization aims to harvest vegetables as soon as June, San Jose said.

Impact FFC also awarded three $20,000 general operating grants to Stamford-based organizations Children’s Learning Centers of Fairfield County and Future 5, and the Bridgeport-based Wakeman Boys & Girls Club.

The charitable organization is member-based; each member contributes $1,000 to a pool to fund the larger grant awards. It has been distributing grants for seven years, cumulatively totaling around $1.6 million in funds for local nonprofits.

This year saw record membership with 262 members, San Jose said.

Many members get involved with some of the organizations they hear about during the award process, volunteering or donating additional money beyond Impact FC, San Jose said.

“There's really truly a ripple effect that comes with being a part of Impact FC that we've seen and that we're really excited about,” San Jose said.